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When does confidentiality apply?

0 votes
Does confidentiality of discussion apply during a budget discussions meeting where the meeting is not an official PC meeting i.e. not held in accordance with Standing Orders.
asked by (1.6k points)

2 Answers

+2 votes
Some contradictions in terms here. There is no such thing as an "unofficial PC meeting". All meetings of the PC are "official" and must follow the laid down procedures of code of conduct and standing orders. It does of course depend on the matter being discussed but items to be declared confidential are very narrow in definition and generally as a result of personal data protection and identification of individuals. A pure budget discussion should not be confidential as members of the public have the right to examine and object to budget decisions made. If there is discussion say on pay to clerk within that discussion then only that part can be confidential and not the whole discussion.
answered by (4.7k points)
The 'unofficial meeting' involves the Chairman of the 6 committees getting together to discuss how Committee budgets will lose or gain. The clerk is there to use her budget program to work out precept and band D charge. There is a recommendation from this discussion  to the Full Council so there seems to be a contradiction here?  If it's not a meeting by Standing Orders then surely they cannot recommend to FC but with our Council they really won't care if it's against any rules ...sorry if this isn't making sense
I would have assumed that your finance committee would have been tasked to produce the draft budget based on information received from other committees who's work impacts on or requires budget commitment. The finance group (who should have the clerks input on implications and historical data at the meetings) would then produce the draft budget for presentation to the full council for approval or amending. This should all be laid out in the committees terms of reference. If not then you will experience people and committees "making it up as they go along"
but if it's not a correctly constituted meeting then surely this is not correct procedure?  I know exactly what you mean about making it up as they go along ..... It's just so wrong.
One way round the problem would be for the council to make it an official working party.

Of course you could get someone to make a FOI request asking for copies of all notes and calculations. That might get their attention.
Unfortunately there is no requirement for working parties to announce meetings, keep minutes or allow public access to their meetings which only increases secrecy and unaccountability which seems to be what this committee is doing contrary to terms of reference and standing orders.
I agree. Working parties don't necessarily keep official minutes, but they may have notes of the meeting that can be accessed via an FOI request.
Our council have decided that all the Neighbourhood plan meetings will be as a working party, so the public never get a chance to attend and have their say. A bizarre decision imho, bearing mind the whole point of a NHDP.
0 votes
Sometimes informal meetings are held to explain the budgets work and the ins and outs to new councillors but it is a good move to have the budget discussion meetings in public so the reasons of any precept increase are out in the open
answered by (3.1k points)

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